Greening your art-making
art.love.nature aims to grow as a collective and a platform for artists to help each other change their art-making practice and lifestyle habits to be healthier and better for ourselves, animals and our environment. Greening your Art Making is about rethinking the way you work and exploring new materials and techniques for eco-friendly artmaking. It can be a very exciting and interesting process that leads you down pathways in your art that you never considered before.
Here is some guidelines to get you started:
- Use natural tempera paint made with clay instead of synthetic chemicals or preservatives
- Use vegetable pigments/dyes like beet juice, turmeric, spinach and blueberries
- Try keep away from solvents and materials with chemical contents.
- Soak old paintbrushes in hot vinegar for 30 minutes and they’re good as new
- Think about the impact of your work on the environment. Do you know what happens to your waste? Do you know where your materials actually derive from?
- Reseach about the chemicals in your materials, and find ways to work without chemicals!
- Explore different materials and techniques in your work. If you struggle to explore new possibilities on your own, join an arts group or go for a workshop.
- Use biodegradable materials as far as possible
- Use recycled materials when possible, but also be aware of the amount of bleach used in the recycling process.
- Choose cruelty-free brushes
- Choose wood, charcoal, paper & other wood products that are FSC certified (Forest Stewardship Council)
- Use discarded or ‘waste’ items to create tools, containers and other handy things for your studio
- Use discarded or ‘waste’ items to create new and unique artworks
- Separate recyclable waste materials from your trash bin, and take them to a depot
- Recycle your food packaging! Your actions outside of your studio has just as much an impact on our environment as your life inside of the studio.
- Experiment with making your own paints
- Make your own glue, gesso and other materials!
- Find a framer who uses sustainably sourced (FSC) wood
- When printing, try use printers that recycle, and uses recycled paper and plant-based inks
- Always keep the environment in mind when exhibiting, selling and packaging with the environment in mind. Even small changes, when compounded, make a big difference.
Cleaning in your studio
Changing the way you make your art – whether for your own health or to lessen your impact on the environment – does not only apply to the way you make your artworks. You could be painting with natural homemade paints, work with plant dyes or even work with bits of waste that you collect from sidewalks, but still have an incredibly detrimental impact on your own health and the health of our environment due to the chemicals you use to clean your studio.
If you’re wondering what I mean, go and read this information (click here) on the Spotless Living website. Also read ‘Does it Matter‘. Spotless Living has been an incredible tool in my own life, giving useful guidelines and alternatives for personal care and household cleaning. Here’s some of those guidelines that applies to your work and cleaning in the studio.
To clean paintbrushes
- Soften paintbrush bristles by soaking in a cup of hot vinegar for about 30 minutes.
- Then sprinkle on a little bicarb and stir around.
- You can also use soap and water to wash them and get all the paint out.
- Rinse with warm water.
To clean hard dry paintbrushes that you forgot to clean
- Soak the brush in vinegar for an hour or so until you can bend the bristles.
- Fill a saucepan with vinegar until the brush bristles are covered.
- Bring the vinegar to a boil and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a minute before removing the brush.
- Gently comb the brush with your fingers. The paint will still be attached but will fall away as you comb it.
- Rinse the brush under running water to release the loose paint.
- Depending on how much paint there was you may need to repeat steps 5 and 6 a couple of times, but before you know it your paint brush will be ready for another round!
Also read William Burgoil’s method to clean his oil paint brushes.
- With some of your cleaning you could just use water. Try cleaning with water first, before reaching for a bottle of cleaning liquid.
- When using non-chemical, natural cleaning materials you can empty your bucket into the garden.
- Use old rags or microfibre cloths for most cleaning jobs. Soft cloths are best for wood and metal surfaces.
- An old toothbrush is great to clean some of your artmaking tools
Using glass as mixing palette, monoprints or other printmaking?
Window and glass cleaner
- Mix equal parts of water and vinegar (or lemon juice) in a spray bottle.
- Alternatively use vinegar infused with lemon or other citrus fruit peels. Simply add some peels to a bottle of vinegar and allow them to soak for a few days before using. The more peels and the longer you let them soak the more powerful and fragrant the infusion will become.
- Spray onto windows or any glass surface and wipe clean with a rag, or buff to a shine with crumpled newspaper.
- Or, spray glass with 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide and wipe with a clean rag
Messed on the walls while being wildly creative?
- To clean painted walls or painted woodwork, mix one cup of vinegar, one cup of bicarb and three cups of warm water.
- Wipe dirt from the surfaces with a soft cloth dipped in the mixture, and rinse with clean water.
- Use this same mixture to prepare walls or surfaces for painting.
If you create scultures, why not consider using wood from invasive species in your area?
Try these in your studio and let us know whether it works for you. Also share any other cleaning solutions that you have found effective and eco-friendly.
- Too busy trying to be an artist, to be green too?
- Read and try recipes to make your own art materials
- Check out artist features for inspiration
- Read Creating an Earth-Friendly & Healthy Art Studio on Fine Art Tips with Lori McNee
- Have a look at this guide to non-toxic painting on the UK artists & illustrators website